Trainer Paul Beshara is happy with the progress that is being made by Happy Trails, but he does not believe that the popular gelding will win the 2014 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield this weekend.
Happy Trails missed the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival after he suffered a tendon injury following his close second behind Shamus Award in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26, but he returned to racing with a solid fifth in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on August 9 before recording an eighth place finish in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30.
The Good Journey gelding produced a similar start to his spring campaign last year before he finished fourth in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (200m) and Beshara told Racing Ahead that he is happy with the progress of the seven-year-old as he builds towards the Cox Plate.
“He has done everything good,” Beshara said.
“Each run is getting him a little bit better and a little bit fitter.
“He has run fifth in the Spring Stakes, which he did last year and ran eighth in the Memsie Stakes, so let’s just hope he puts in a very good run in the Underwood.
“I don’t expect him to win it, but I expect him to run in the first five and we will take it from there.
“He has taken a little bit longer, but he is going alright.”
Leading jockey Michael Rodd rode Happy Trails for the first time in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes and is set to ride the veteran gelding in the Underwood Stakes this weekend, but Beshara confirmed that he has not booked Rodd for the rest of his star gallopers’ spring campaign.
“It is race by race,” Beshara said.
“I always think that they do that to me, so I will do it to them and keep them on the toes.”
The Underwood Stakes field could feature a capacity field of 16 runners after 25 gallopers, including ten Group 1 winners, were included in the nominations for the $400,000 race that were released yesterday.
Happy Trails is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds of $34 in the betting market for the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship with Ladbrokes Australia.